Stale water and the smell of death: Senses in the ancient Near East

The Routledge Handbook of the Senses in the Ancient Near East has been published. The volume, edited by Kiersten Neumann and Allison Thomason (2021), explores the ways in which humans sensed and experienced the world in the ancient Near East.

There are three articles written by researchers related to ANEE in the handbook. Rick Bonnie writes about the visual, auditory and tactile aspects of water in his article “Pure stale water. Experiencing Jewish purification rituals in early Roman Palestine.” Helen Dixon, an ANEE external collaborator, explores the sense of smell and its significant role in the experience of burial in her article “The smells of eternity. Aromatic oils and resins in the Phoenician mortuary record.” A more extra-sensory approach to senses is presented by Aleksi Sahala and Saana Svärd in their article “Language technology approach to “seeing” in Akkadian”. They analyze seven Akkadian verbs that connote “seeing” and map out their usage in ancient Akkadian texts using digital methods. The theoretical framework is that of cognitive linguistics, where the basic idea is that we can attempt to understand the perspective of ancient people by analysing the words they used.

Some of these articles in the handbook will be made freely available through open access in the near future.

See the volume on the publisher’s website.